Deland, Fl. – Step into Leticia Polike’s fourth grade classroom at George W. Marks Elementary in DeLand, and you’ll notice it’s “hands-on.”
Hands-on the floor, hands-on the white board — hands-on everything.
“Oh it’s messy, but that’s how they best learn,” Policke said with a smile.
Policke ends each class with an interactive project.
“It feels like chaos, but it’s creative chaos,” Policke said as she gestured towards the kids working diligently at her feet.
Papers were rustling, pens were rolling and the classroom was noisy. Everyone was excited to explain their project to one another.
The lesson on the day we visited was Earth Changes. The students were using markers and large paper stock to create poster sized examples of earthquake, tsunami and volcano facts.
“We agreed that this room can be messy at times because we’re using our creative side,” Policke said, adding she encourages her students to work right up until the end of the day. And because of that, the room is often left a mess.
But Policke has help cleaning it up.
She wrote us to express gratitude for a group of her students who stay late and help organize and clean her classroom. This allows her to grade papers, plan lessons and get out at a reasonable time.
“Any teacher out there can tell you, it’s hard having to stay after school, working on a lesson plan and getting ready for the next day.”
Moments after the bell rings for the final time of the day, her helpers start arriving.
“These students volunteer after a long day of learning with a skip and a smile, they start with turning on their favorite tunes, dance a little, and off they go!”
Policke tells us, Emma Tamayo, Avery Wells, Zoey Natal, Kloe Clark, and Charles Sutta are “Getting Results.”
The kids volunteer 3 hours after school every Monday and Friday.
“Thanks to them, I can leave school on Fridays knowing my stack of student assignments are organized, whiteboards and cleaned, marks are tidied up in its placeholders,” Policke said.
Each student holds a job role.
“We have a moneys system in class,” Policke explained. “Kloe attaches student ‘moneys earned’ on their student work and places smelly stickers for others. Emma makes sure our ‘community center’ is neatly organized and its supplies are replenished, and pencils are sharpened. She also makes sure the library and student binders are neat and organized.”
“It’s just something fun to do,” Kloe said. “I know I’m helping Mrs. Policke so she doesn’t have to go home worried about anything. It’s just nice to help her.”
Avery makes sure the students’ desks are neatly organized.
Zoey places students’ returned assignments and flyers to go home in the mailboxes.
Charles is the tech kid, he makes sure the computer carts are organized, computers are charging, and he creates tech slips to send student computers in for repairs.
Together, they update the Calendar of Events, update Goal Charts, and water the class plants.
Policke said the entire project was the kids’ idea. “They asked me if they can volunteer. That has to come from you. It was not for me to ask. If you want to volunteer, let’s go. We build this together,” Policke said, adding she’s happy to foster their sense of service. “I tell them these are life skills. That’s what teachers do, we cultivate their love, their skills, their talents.”
The group needs little instruction, they work diligently and in no time, the classroom is transformed.
“Our school custodian appreciates them picking up the pencils, markers, binders, and papers left on the floor,” Policke said. “As you can see, they are my lifesavers. Without them, these tasks would add at least 2 hours to my day and 3,000 more steps.”
Each student keeps a record of their volunteer hours averaging 144 hours each.
“I truly believe these students deserve recognition for ‘Getting Results.’ They truly are exemplary volunteers with a heart of gold. I want others to know how blessed I am to have them as my students and my most valued volunteers,” Policke said.